As I’m sure the whole country knows, a $2.2 trillion economic aid package – the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES)– has been signed into law by President Trump.

The CARES Act follows two measures: an $8.5 billion stimulus bill, and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, aimed at providing financial assistance to Americans impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. It covers freelance and gig workers, including folks like me and you, and outlines key provisions for families and students.

I’ve been in communication with my financial advisers on a daily basis so they can help me understand what it all means. Here is some good info about how this act will impact us.  I hope this triggers you enough to at least call your financial advisor and see if any of these plans would be a fit for your unique situation.

What can small business owners and self-employed individuals expect with this new legislation?

The highlights are outlined below…

Direct Payments: Americans who earn up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income will receive direct payments of $1,200 (up to $112,500 in income for a head of household return and $150,000 for joint returns). An additional $500 will be allotted per each child under the age of 17. The payment amounts are reduced with increased income up to $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for couples. Payments will be sent electronically or by paper check. Incomes above the threshold amounts are not eligible. 

Loan Programs: Expansion of Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs, specifically the Economic Injury Disaster and Paycheck Protection Program loan programs. Both programs are available to businesses with 500 or fewer employees.

  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans – Relief up to $2 million that may be used for paid sick leave, payroll, rent/mortgage, and certain debt obligations and increased costs related to COVID-19. The coverage period runs Jan. 31 – Dec. 31, 2020.
  • Paycheck Protection Program Loans – Relief calculated at 250% of the average salary expenditures/month for 2019, up to $10 million, and may be used for payroll, rent/mortgage interest, and utilities. All or a portion of these loans will be forgivable for businesses that maintain the same average payroll levels as in the previous year. The coverage period runs Feb. 15 – June 30, 2020.

Early Withdrawal: Self-employed individuals with retirement accounts, including IRAs, can take early withdrawals (related to coronavirus) of up to $100,000 without having to pay the 10% early-withdrawal penalty. Self-employed individuals 70 ½  years or older do not have to take the required minimum distributions from retirement plans in 2020 or to pay taxes on those distributions. 

Deferred Payments: Employers and self-employed individuals can defer payment on the employer’s share of Social Security payroll taxes from March 27 – Dec. 31, 2020. The deferred tax can be paid over the following two years, with 50% required by Dec. 31, 2021, and the remaining 50% due by Dec. 31, 2022. Employers who utilize the SBA’s paycheck protection loan are not eligible.

Unemployment Assistance: Provides “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance” to those, including independent contractors (e.g. real estate agents), who are unable to work, as a direct result of COVID-19, and don’t qualify for regular unemployment benefits. Individuals who are able to telework or receive sick leave or other paid leave benefits aren’t eligible.  In addition to state aid, an additional $600 per week is allocated to eligible individuals for a period of up to four months through July 31, 2020. State-level unemployment benefits are extended 13 weeks. The extension runs through December 31, 2020.

A few other resources for your family and/or clients: 

Loan Forbearance: Permits borrowers with a federally backed mortgage loan experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19 to request forbearance (up to 180 days) on the loan, regardless of delinquency status. The borrower will not accrue any additional fees or penalties beyond the regular amounts.

Student Loan Suspension: Requires lenders to suspend payments on federal student loans through Sept. 30. Interest will not accrue and nonpayment during the six-month period won’t affect credit scores or an individual’s qualification for loan forgiveness.

Additional Tax Deductions: Allows individuals (who don’t itemize their deductions) to make a cash donation of up to $300 to certain qualifying charities. The additional contribution can be deducted “above the line,” so the taxpayer would receive the deduction on top of the standard deduction.

What happens next?

The federal government is still working on the implementation of the CARES Act; additional regulations and updates will follow. For specific information regarding your financials, it is advised to connect with professional supports, including your lawyer, tax accountant and/or financial planner.

Have more questions?

I know that everyone’s business and situation is different. Here is a great article with answers to some FAQs that might help clarify some of the details for you.   

If you’d like an SBA lender referral, you’re in good luck as our town has 3 fantastic SBA lenders that I have personally worked with.  Call or respond to this email and I can pass their info along.

If you have any needs that our team may be able to help with, please let us know.  We are going a little stir crazy and are happy to help.  In the past week, we have helped an out-of-area client secure his house by adding window coverings to prevent ill-intentioned passerby from seeing an empty target, delivered groceries to clients that can’t get out, and checked on vacant houses for out-of-area clients.  

We are in this together.  Getting through it together will hopefully end up being a unifying experience for all of us.  An experience that will make us better humans first and business people secondly!  I’m cheering for you and every business person/investor out there fighting in the trenches to get through this time. 

Let’s survive to thrive, friends-

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.